Manchester United faces multi-million bill for fake bomb ‘fiasco’
MANCHESTER – Agence France-Presse
AP photoA fake bomb inside Old Trafford that forced the abandonment of Manchester United’s last Premier League game of the season triggered angry calls May 16 for action as the club faced a multi-million pound bill for the “fiasco.”
As inquiries started into the incident which led to bomb disposal experts blowing up a mobile phone attached to a gas pipe, United vowed to reimburse the tickets of 75,000 fans, who were evacuated May 15 ahead of the game against Bournemouth.
They will also give them free entry to the May 17 rearranged match against the south-coast side. That gesture alone could cost United more than three million pounds (3.8 million euros/$4.3 million).
Tony Lloyd, Manchester’s mayor and police and crime commissioner, said: “It is outrageous this situation arose.
“A full inquiry is required to urgently find out how this happened, why it happened and who will be held accountable.
“This fiasco caused massive inconvenience to supporters who had come from far and wide to watch the match, wasted the time of huge numbers of police officers and the army’s bomb squad, and unnecessarily put people in danger, as evacuating tens of thousands of people from a football stadium is not without risk.”
Officials said a company which conducted a security exercise at Old Trafford had left the fake bomb - a mobile phone attached to a gas pipe - in a stadium toilet.
The device was found just before the kick-off of the May 15 match and the evacuation ordered.
Army experts staged a “controlled explosion” before police announced that the suspect device was “incredibly lifelike” but “wasn’t viable.”
Greater Manchester police assistant chief constable John O’Hare said: “On appearance this device was as real as could be, and the decision to evacuate the stadium was the right thing to do, until we could be sure that people were not at risk.”
United’s vice-chairman Ed Woodward said an investigation would be launched to guide “future actions and decisions.”
British media named the company that left the device in the stadium as Security Search Management and Solutions.
They said the firm had staged a training exercise for sniffer dogs at Old Trafford but left the fake bomb behind.
Christopher Reid, owner of Security Search Management, told the Daily Mail his company was “getting the blame” for the fake bomb but refused to make any comment until after he had spoken with Manchester United.